Grand Forks RCMP officer who shot drunk driver won't be charged | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Grand Forks RCMP officer who shot drunk driver won't be charged

A Grand Forks RCMP officer who shot a drunk driver four years ago won't be charged, despite a recommendation from the province's police watchdog that he should be.

The officer shot the driver four times when he failed to pull over for RCMP and rammed his truck into their cruisers, according to the B.C. Prosecution Service in a media release issued today, Nov. 25.

Crown prosecutors said they didn't have enough evidence to conclude the officer wasn't acting in self defence when he shot the driver.

The incident started hours before the shooting when a civilian reported a drunk driver around 10:30 a.m., May 10, 2018.

Grand Forks was in a state of emergency having been evacuated due to flooding, and the suspect was helping with sandbagging in the area, the prosecution service said.

While helping with the flood efforts, the suspect was reported to be pulling a trailer and driving "all over the road."

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Police couldn't find him after the first report, but a conservation officer reported seeing him driving dangerously at around 2:30 p.m.

At about 3:20 p.m., RCMP finally spotted the suspect and tried to pull him over, but he revved his engine and drove off as the officer walked up.

The suspect, who's not named in the news release, was already known to local RCMP.

The suspect had told police in the past that the next time he was pulled over, he would not stop. He also had a history of "violent, alcohol influenced negative interactions" with both the public and police, the release said.

Police soon found him again and officers tried to block him on a one way street. Officers called out for him to turn off the vehicle.

“You want to do this with me? Do you want to do this with me?” the suspect replied. “I only got one chance at life and you’re at the end of the rainbow.”

Five officers were on the scene and the suspect rammed his truck into at least two police cruisers.

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The officer who shot the suspect didn't provide a statement to IIO investigators.

The RCMP officer, who was the commanding officer at the time, shot the driver in the shoulder and torso. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he later recovered.

The driver was charged with assault with a weapon, flight from police and impaired and dangerous driving, the prosecution service said.

Prosecutors were considering charging the officer with attempted murder, aggravated assault and/or reckless discharge of a firearm.

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Although he didn't give a statement to the IIO, the officer said the driver was "about to kill about three of us," over the radio after the shooting.

Crown assumed the officer would claim the shooting was in self-defence and found prosecutors could not prove otherwise.

Both civilian witnesses and the suspect himself were not reliable to prove the officer wasn't acting in self-defence, the prosecution service said.

"(The suspect's) statements offered little evidence of what occurred, preferring instead to give a self-serving narrative of events that was at times off topic or non-responsive to the questions posed, or amounted to guesses or speculation," the release reads.

Crown also reviewed video evidence from a civilian's cell phone. The video was recorded from about 20 metres away and it was both shaky and out of focus.

Prosecutors tried to use the video to determine just how close the officer that shot the suspect was to danger, but ultimately found it to be "unhelpful."

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. (IIO) issued a news release today, which did not contradict the Crown's findings, but it does criticize how transparently the Crown described the video evidence.

"Their (statement) does not refer to the nature of this video evidence, which challenges other evidence received about the (officer’s) location, and whether (the officer) had objective grounds to fear for his life and safety or took advantage of a reasonable alternate means of escape," the news release reads.

Prosecutors said they and the IIO went through "protracted" efforts to determine the "implications" of the video evidence, but found that it could not be used to dispute the evidence from witnesses.

The suspect admitted that he struck the RCMP cruisers with his truck because he was "pissed off and frustrated" that police were trying to stop him from helping people in the flood, according to the prosecution service release.

"He described himself as a 'bulldozer' and said there was no stopping him," the release reads.

B.C.'s police watchdog recommended charges against the officer in October 2019, and it's taken more than three years for the Crown to decide whether it should charge the officer.

The Crown did not, however, decide the officer was acting in self-defence and should not be charged. Instead, it found there was no "clear evidence" to support whether that officer did fear for his life and safety when he decided to shoot the driver.

“While I found that there were reasonable grounds to believe that an offence has been committed, the (prosecution service) determined that the evidence was not clear enough for them to reach the conclusions suggested by my office,” IIO chief civilian director Ronald J. MacDonald said in a separate news release. “However, the (statement) does not transparently outline for the public important evidence the IIO presented on these issues.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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